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Page 1: HISTORICAL UNDERSTANDINGS

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HISTORICAL UNDERSTANDINGS

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SS8H1 TSW evaluate the development of Native American

cultures and the impact of European exploration and settlement on the Native

American cultures in Georgia.a. Describe the evolution of

Native American cultures (Paleo, Archaic, Woodland, &

Mississippian) prior to European contact.

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Paleo PeriodThe earliest known culture is

that of the Paleo Indians, whose culture lasted until

about 10,000 years ago. The word “Paleo” comes from the

Greek and means very old or long ago.

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Early people can sometimes be identified by the material they used to make knives,

scrapers, and points for spears.

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Because most tools and spear points used by the people of

this culture were made of stone, this period is

referred to as the Paleolithic (old stone) age.

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The Paleo culture also used an amazing invention called an atlatl, [aht-laht-l] a smooth

sling-like implement that threw darts far more

accurately that if thrown by hand.

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The Paleo people were nomadic or roaming

hunters. They wandered following herds of large

animals.

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The hunters used long wooden spears to kill the large animals

which were used for food. They may also have chased the animals over cliffs to kill

them.

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Remains of their dwelling places indicate that the

Paleo people lived in groups of 25 to 50

people.

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Because they were nomads, they didn’t leave many

artifacts in any one place. Only a few Paleo sites have

been found in Georgia.

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Early Archaic PeriodThis period included three distinct time spans: early, middle, and late. The word

“archaic” means old.

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The early Archaic period was from about 8000 B.C to about

5000 B.C. During this time, people still hunted big game,

but those animals were slowly becoming extinct.

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The Archaic Indians then began hunting smaller game

such as deer, bear, turkey, and rabbit,

as well as reptiles, game birds, and fish.

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The early Archaic people invented useful items such

as choppers, drills, and chipping tools made from

deer antlers.

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Archaeological evidence indicates that the early Archaic people moved each season. In fall, they lived where berries, nuts, and fruits were plentiful.

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In summer, they moved to good fishing locations.

They also migrated during spring and winter to find

food.

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Middle Archaic PeriodBy 5000 B.C. the area grew

warm and dry. Water levels among rivers and coastal areas receded, or moved

back. People began to eat shellfish.

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Scientists have found hooks made from animal bones that came from this time period.

These hooks were sometimes on the ends of

long spears that were weighed in the middle with

polished stones.

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Because hunters could throw the weighted spears long

distances, food became easier to get. Finding more food

meant that people didn’t need to move as often and small groups joined together to

establish camps.

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Late Archaic PeriodA common artifact from this period (4000 B.C. to 1000 B.C.) is the grooved axe.

Excavations, or archeological digs, of these settlements

indicate that axes were used to clear trees and bushes around camp.

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The late Archaic people also saved seeds to plant in

the next growing season. It’s though that

horticulture, or the science of cultivating plants and

trees, began in this period.

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By 2500 B.C., the climate had become cooler and wetter. People depended

on shellfish for most of their food.

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North of Augusta, archeologists have found a

large garbage mound of clams and mussels along with burial grounds, fire hearths, pipes, axes, shell beads, bone pins,

needles, & hooks, and spear points.

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Historians think that these late Archaic villages were more

permanent that those of any group before them.

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The way food was prepared also changed. Pottery shards

dating from the Archaic period

indicate that clay containers were used for storing,

cooking, and serving food.

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Archeologists think that learning to make and use pottery may be one of the greatest contributions the Archaic people made to Native American culture.

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Woodland PeriodThis culture developed about

1000 B.C. and lasted until about 1000 A.D. Evidence suggests that during this

period families began banding together to form tribes.

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Tribes are groups of people who share a common

ancestry, name and way of life. These tribes lived in villages and built huts as

houses. Woodland people used small trees and bark to build

dome-shaped huts.

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Hunting became easier when the Woodland people

developed the bow and arrow. Arrow points were made out of stone, shark

teeth, or deer antlers.

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Fishing, hunting, and gathering nuts and berries remained important ways

of getting food. The people also grew squash, wild

greens, and sunflowers.

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The Woodland people learned how to make

pottery last longer by mixing clay

with sand.

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They used wooden paddles

to make designs. After the pottery dried in the sun, it was baked in a hot fire to make it hard enough to

use for cooking.

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Elaborate religious ceremonies were

introduced during the Woodland period like

building cone-shaped burial mounds for the dead.

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Rock Eagle Mound is burial mound in Georgia estimated to have been

constructed 1,000 to 3,000 years ago. Thousands of

pieces of quartzite are laid in the mounded shape of a large bird (102 ft long from

head to tail, and 120 ft wide from wing tip to wing

tip). It is most often referred

to as an eagle.

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They adorned bodies with necklaces, bracelets, rings, and copper or bone combs.

Special funeral pottery, tools, tobacco pipes, and weapons were put in the

grave with them.

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These types of artifacts lead archeologists and

anthropologists to think this group of people believed in

some type of life after death.

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Mississippian PeriodThis culture is considered to be

the highest prehistoric civilization in Georgia. Starting around 700

A.D., it is so called because some of the first information that was learned

about the culture came from from villages along the Mississippi

River that were excavated.

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From these archeological sites, we know that these people grew most of their

food. Maize, also known as corn, beans, pumpkins, and

squash were all planted together in hills.

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Tobacco was grown to use in ceremonies. Crops

were rotated among the

different fields so the soil would stay fertile.

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The Mississippians began to dress and fix their hair

differently. Their clothes were more ornate. They

wore beads and ear ornaments.

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Sometimes they tattooed their bodies

and wore feather headdresses.

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Villages grew, and several thousand families might

live in a single settlement. They built centers for religious ceremonies.

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Moats and palisades, or wooden fences, often protected the villages.

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In some Georgia Indian villages, guard towers have

been found along the palisades, indicating that they

needed to defend themselves

against tribal enemies.

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About 1600 A.D., the people left the villages and there is nothing

to tell us where they went. Because this was in the

prehistoric period which was before written history, we may

never learn what happened to the Mississippians.